Awhile ago, a friend and fellow CF'er gave me the book Primal Blueprint, which is written by Mark Sisson, the author of Mark's Daily Apple. He encouraged me to read it after reading about my frustrations with my nutrition and weight. While reading through Sisson's book, I have to admit I was a little skeptical. Some of the things he suggested eating in large quantities were things the Zone had explicitly said to regulate, like Fat intake. But, seeing as how the Zone isn't working for me anymore, I really wanted to at least give it a go. So giving it a go I am. For those of you who aren't Primal, here is the basis of Sisson's plan.
Sisson lays out his plan quite simply in his book. Eat lots of animals and plants. What? That's it? No weighing, no measuring, no counting almonds? Well, not quite, but basically yes. Sisson's plan basically involves you eating about half of your diet in good fats, and filling the rest with good proteins and good carbs.
Good fats: Nuts and their derivitive oils and butters, cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, animal fats including lard (but pure lard NOT processed), cream cheese, avocados etc.
Now, for some of you who are going ape with this pronouncement, keep reading. Sisson says that the reason so many Americans are overweight has to do with carb intake. A big duh on that. We've known that for years, which is why diets like the Atkins and South Beach came around. But despite things being packaged and labeled as healthy and low carb, people are still gaining. Why? Well, it goes back to the carbs and sugars again. In order to maintain your weight, Sisson says that you need to intake about 100-150g of carbs per diem, that's it. Holy cow. Comparitively speaking let me put it to you this way, a venti white mocha from Starbucks has 76g of sugar, aka carbs. Say huh!? Yeah, so bottom line is that most of us go waaaay over our carbs everyday. The other thing is, that those carbs we're taking in should be natural, a la fruits and veggies. Our bodies aren't really adapted for dealing with completely processed crap. Not to mention, when we eat things that are processed we lose the valuable nutrient aspect that we get from natural sources like fruits and veggies. So Sisson says, keep your carbs between 50-100g to lose, and 100-150g to maintain. And when you're not eating processed crap, you'd be surprised at just how much this allows you to eat. He also tackles in his book the idea that for some, stepping down gradually may be a better fit than going all in and jumping straigh from 300+ to 50-100. That is a huge jump down.
So what does this gobblygook all mean exactly? Ditch the cereal, the pasta, the prepackaged junk you buy at the store. Hit up the produce aisle hardcore and purchase tons of organic fruits and veggies. Why organic? Because organic veggies as we all know are grown without pesticides and therefore regain more of their natural nutrients. Well, this should be a no brainer then. Buy organic even if it is pricier. Hey, we thought the Zone was expensive too, remember? Instead now, we're not buying bulk, or quantity, we're buying quality. If possible, go for local organic produce. If you can't get that, go local commerically grown. Local is probably your best bet since they're closer geographically they can be picked closer to the peak of freshness and don't have to be chemically altered to be ripe. After that is organic distant, then organic commercially grown.
Sound confusing? Think of it this way, the less the product has to travel the better. The fewer pesticides, the better. If you do purchase commercially grown produce, be sure to wash them in a fruit and veggie cleaner. I bought one at Trader Jose's for relatively cheap compared to the number of washes I will get out of it. I have to say it's amazing to see the produce without the white shadow on it.
Sisson also makes a similar comment about meat in his book. You want high quality meats. Meats that aren't given antibiotics or growth hormones, meats that are grain fed and given room to grow. Again, more $$, but better quality stuff. To break it all down on here would be too much, but basically, better quality = better for you.
The only real measuring you need to do in the beginning is take a rough figure of how much protein you need to maintain your body. Sisson gives a relative formula and you can go from there.
He encourages those just starting out to use a journal or online log like fitday.com to learn about your foods. Having a general idea of how much you're eating and what it's worth will help get you into whatever target category you are looking for. I've been using Fitday.com for three days and I have to say that it's great. It's been keeping me pretty much in line and I'm learning a lot about the food that I'm eating.
The general idea of Mark's plan though is for you to be knowledgable about your food and then move away from keeping track and scrutinizing. He says eat when you're hungry, stop when you're full. It's that simple, but with the log you quickly learn what the good stuff to put into your system is.
Many of you might be wondering how this compares to the Zone or even to Paleo since it seems so similar. It really and truly is very Paleoish. Mark actually answers all these questions on his site here -----> FAQ's
Mark's site (Mark's Daily Apple)also has a lot of recipes and other information about Primal living. In fact, as I stopped by today, he's doing a 30 day Primal Living Challenge. He's obviously very passionate about his work, and so I'm giving it a go. One place where Sisson does differ from ideas like the Zone and Paleo is that with him it's not just about the eating. Sisson also goes through his other rules for living in his book. There are 10 in all, but among them, thinking about sleeping, getting true sun, playing, and finding ways to avoid or beat stress. The man has a point. Eating is part of the equation, but so is stress.
If you're not my friend on Facebook you've been missing out on all the mobile uploads I've been making as I've begun cooking in a Primal manner. I have to say, it's some of the best tasting stuff I've had in awhile, and I've gotten a lot of comments about the food I've posted. I'm giving this a try for 30 days. A month. I want to see if this could work for me. The no weighing, no measuring, eating when hungry thing... I love it. But we'll see. However, if the scale this am is any indication, ditching the soda and going Primal may just be the ticket. Last Monday I officially ditched soda. Thursday I started going Primal. From then to now, there is a difference of almost 4 lbs. Now, that may be a fluke, but we'll see how things pan out as the month goes on. Either way, I felt good seeing that number on the scale today. It officially read 165.00. Last week it said 168.8. So, we'll see. We'll see. But for now, I love Mark Sisson and Grok (his primal example). Grok on!